Monday, October 27, 2014

Sometimes Getting Nominated is All you Need

The other day I received news that I was nominated for an Outstanding Educator Award from the University of Chicago. Every year, the university asks freshman to nominate a teacher from their high school who have made a direct impact on them. Patrick Taylor alumnus, Thomas Sostarics, nominated me. After receiving the letter, I texted Thomas a big thank you, and he responded by telling me that it was the least that he could do for all the support that I gave him and all of his classmates over the years that they attended Taylor. I feel so honored that he thought so much of me. Thomas was always an outstanding student, and when I wrote recommendations for him for college, I ended this way, (Thomas) "is going to be a real asset on any campus where he lands, and he will take advantage of every opportunity that you offer him. This is one of the students whom I will miss most of all when school starts up in the fall of 2014." It is so true. I miss him each and every day, but I know that he was more than ready to have flown the coop. I also know that he will soar now that he has the world of opportunities open to him at the University of Chicago.

I was sent a certificate, the plaque above, and the letter below

Double click on the letter above to read

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thank you, Chris Grabenstein

I met Chris Grabenstein at a conference last March, and I was delighted by the way he captured an audience's attention. I knew that my students would love having a chance to talk to him. So I selected his book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library as the read for the middle school book group in October. It was difficult to find a date that worked for both of us, but a few months ago we were able to confirm a date for skyping with him. BRiMS had the best time talking and listening to Chris because Chris Grabenstein is a hoot. He was very entertaining, and no question went unanswered. Some of the kids had some super questions for him, like asking him how living in New York has influenced his books. You can find out more about this Skype session and see more pictures by visiting the library website here

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bookmarked President Writes Post for The Hub

Over the summer, Destiny Burnett entered a contest to write for the YALSA blog, The Hub, during Teen READ Week. She along with 30 other teens are being published all month long in this well read blog. She wrote a wonderful post on diversity in YA literature, and it was published today. Open here to read her post

Excited about Teen's Top Ten 2014 List

My book group, Bookmarked, helped to nominate the books that were on the list for Teen's Top Ten. Teens around the country just finished selecting their ten favorites from the 25 nominated titles. What a great list it is! I can't wait to share the list with my students. I know that they will be thrilled too. 

Watch this video from YALSA announcing the titles or see the list below.

Teen's Top Ten
  1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Macmillan/St. Martin's Griffin)
  2. Splintered by A.G. Howard (ABRAMS/Amulet Books)
  3. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (Tor Teen)
  4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Penguin/Putnam Juvenile) 
  5. Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne (Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends)
  6. Earth Girl by Janet Edwards (Prometheus Books /Pyr)
  7. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, Joelle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  8. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (Random House/Delacorte Press)
  9. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (Macmillan/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
  10. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner (Random House/Delacorte Press)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recap of Teen READ Week 2014

Dream Catchers 
Every year, I enlist the help of members of the high school book group, Bookmarked, to help me plan and execute all the activities for Teen READ Week. Because let's face it, it is the middle school students who get excited about the games and contests that we plan. There are always some high schoolers who participate, but it is the younger ones who get into the spirit of the week with gusto. This year was no different. Each day students could answer the clues for the guessing game that we play in some variation every year, as well as another special activity for each day during lunch. 
No, she did not guess the correct number of candy bars

Creating a dream catcher takes a lot of concentration
When we began planning, none of us was taken by the theme Turn your Dreams into Reality. The idea of careers and jobs just didn't seem very exciting for TRW. It turned out to be a great theme. Our clues for the guessing game revolved around the jobs of our favorite book characters. For the jar that we fill with items where students must guess the correct number, we stuffed Pay Day bars and 100 Grand bars which we thought fit the theme. We created dream catchers for turning our dreams into reality, and we took photos and added speech bubbles explaining what we dream to be when we grow up. The scavenger hunt did not actually fit the theme, but it revolved around books and libraries so we thought it was fitting.appropriate. 

These girls found a book and are deciphering a clue for the scavenger hunt

The students could only access the library OPAC to help with the clues
You can find lots more pictures of the week on the library website. Open here to visit the page of pics

Monday, October 13, 2014

First Book Fair at PFTSTA

The first book fair ever to be held at PFTSTA ran from Monday, October 6th through Thursday, October 9th. It was a long four days but definitely worth it. We sold $4700 of books, posters, pens, erasers, etc. I had lots of help at the cash register from the members of Bookmarked and BRiMS. They did a super job of helping make it all happen. The middle school students had a great time picking out fun reads, but surprisingly, the high school students did, too. Not much more needs to be said except the place was packed on Wednesday during the middle school grandparents' breakfast. Unfortunately, I was too busy to take pictures while the special visitors were in the library shopping with their grandchildren. Below are photos that capture the week for me. 


None of those pictures of students with books in their hands were posed. The kids were engrossed in the titles that they found for sale on the shelves. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Getting Ready for Teen READ Week 2014

Last week was book fair and next week is Teen READ Week. As the week progresses, I will post pictures here. Per our usual game plan for TRW, the library will be hopping with lots of activities, games and contests every day at lunch. Members of Bookmarked helped me plan and will be my assistants next week. I have got all the supplies ready to go, and I can't wait for lunch time on Monday. 

Turn Your Dreams into Reality  @ PFTSTA LibraryTeen Read Week 2014

PicturePrize for guessing the correct number of candies.
1. Annual Library Book Mark Contest: Two winners-one from middle school and one from high school-will receive a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card, and their bookmark reproduced to give away to the PFTSTA community. You can visit the library for a hard copy or open here: and print out from the web.
All bookmarks are due in the library by Wednesday, October 15th at 2:30PM.

2. Dream Jobs Guessing Game: Every day during Teen Read Week, you can visit the library to get a clue about a character from a book or movie who has a special job. If you answer correctly you will receive a prize. You may enter this contest once a day each day of the week.

3. Fine Forgiveness Week: You may return any overdue book/s during Teen Read Week without having to pay a fine.

4. Guess the Candy in the jar: When you go to work, would you rather a PayDay bar or $100 Grand? The winner’s answers must be closest to the correct number without going over. Guess the correct number of candy bars in the jar and win a PayDay tin bank. 

5. Vote for Teen’s Top Ten: Members of Bookmarked helped nominate books for Teen’s Top Ten, now you can help select the best of the best. Vote for up to three of your favorite books from 2013 here:

6. Now showing in your library: Visit the library at lunch on Monday, to watch an episode of the television show Twilight Zone, "Man in a Bottle, " narrated by Rod Serling, an episode of someone who is unhappy with his profession and dreams of improving his life. Popcorn will be served.

7. What do you dream to be? Visit the library at lunch on Tuesday and Friday, and we will take a picture of you. You will put a thought bubble over your head using and type in what you dream to be in the future. Photos will be printed out and hung on a dream catcher that you can make on Wednesday.

8. Play Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Scavenger Hunt: Visit the library on Thursday and form a team of three. You will have a chance to play a scavenger hunt among the shelves of the library. Spirit monkeys will be awarded for those who find all the clues and solve the riddle.

9.  Create a dreamcatcher for you picture: Visit the library Wednesday and Friday at lunch for this activity. Materials will be available for you to make a dreamcatcher.


Donors' Choose Project Funded

Earlier this week, I found out that my project for buying books for my middle school book group was funded on Donors' Choose. I am thrilled, and I know that the kids will be also. Because of the kind donations, the students will be reading the following books during one of our monthly meetings:


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Using Donor's Choose to Get Books for BRiMS

Find project here
I have been running a middle school book group since February 2011. I have always had one or two copies of the book for the month in the library, and then I expected the students to either buy the book or find it in the public library. The books that we selected were always available in the public library. This process never worked well because the students didn't seek out the book outside of school, so when we met as a group most of the students had not read the selected book. So we only chose a book every other month, and on the opposite months, we all read from the same genre. That was okay because that meant every member read a book, but it made a quality discussion difficult. I tried a Donor's Choose project before asking for devices where I could download the books for the students to read. That project never got funded, but I am trying again now. This time, I am asking for the physical books. Please consider helping our project by making a small donation, the students will certainly appreciate your support. If you donate before October 11th, please add SPARK in the promo code so that your dollars get matched up to a $100 donation. 

Reading Fans Pose with their Favorite Books

On Friday, four students started goofing around on the sofas with some books. They know that I take photos of kids reading for my Caught Reading series on Facebook, and they thought that they could design some fun pictures for me to use. They did, but I didn't post all of the shots on Facebook, and I like them all, so I decided to post them here for your pleasure. Glad to have students who are so passionate about reading.

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